Matthew Foust, Audiofile Engineering
Audiofile Engineering recently unveiled Triumph, not just an update to Wave Editor (with lots of new features) but rebuilt ground up to take full advantage of the latest features in OS X. I’ve been giving it a test run and will be sharing my thoughts in the form of a review shortly. Stay tuned for it because it will also include a big Audiofile Engineering app giveaway (including Triumph)!
While I take Triumph on a test drive, I thought it would be great to interview Matthew Foust, co-founder and operations manager at Audiofile Engineering, to find out more about the innovation that drives company.
DS: Tell us about the background of Audiofile Engineering. How and when did it all begin?
MF: It was, for all intents and purposes, an accident. Ev (Olcott) and I had been playing music together in Minneapolis for a while. We decided to open a studio together around 2000 and did a lot of recording of bands and writing/sound design for Hollywood (mostly movie trailers and cartoons). Ev had been coding since grade school. I had been working in IT doing architecture and scalable systems. Obviously, we’re both eggheads and Apple lovers.
Long story longer, our DAW of choice was MOTU Digital Performer which was the first to make the leap to Mac OS X. We updated our main DAW to Mac OS X and realized that, although our DAW was Mac OS X-compatible, nothing else was. Ev had tons and tons of samples that we needed to process and we had been using an old app called Alchemy that withered away. Thus we developed, for our own purposes, Sample Manager. Well, the lightbulb went on that other people might be interested in this. The businessperson in me realized that a) the studio business was going to going start contracting in a serious way and b) there was a vacuum of audio tools designed and built for Mac OS X. Audiofile Engineering was born.
DS: You’ve got quite a roster of applications – both for OSX and iOS. All of them have gorgeous designs and great functionality built in. It seems like a lot of time and effort is spent not just replicating functionality but also reinventing the wheel?
MF: Exactly. Our goal is always to rethink the way humans can and should interact with audio and music-making software. I think FiRe is a great example of that. We could have easily published a dime-a-dozen voice recorder app when the iOS App Store launched, but it wouldn’t have been interesting. We worked on FiRe for over a year because we wanted to replace a hand-held field recorder. That said, it had to take advantage of what these amazing devices could do that a field recorder couldn’t. It also had to do what other audio apps at the time weren’t doing. That’s why the real-time waveform view and SoundCloud integration were so important and worth waiting for.
DS: Tell us about Triumph. Wave Editor is already well known, why the rebranding?
MF: Well, the “Wave Editor” name was always a bit tongue-in-cheek. ;) It’s also inaccurate!
When we first developed Wave Editor, we never intended for it to be a mastering tool. It was really informed by the sound design we were doing at the time. Yes, it is an editor, but what can it do to inspire creativity? That’s where the layers concept was born. That feature alone makes it so much more than editor.
Then we started getting requests for CD burning. We shoehorned that feature, never intending Wave Editor to be a mastering tool. That kind of snowballed, but we never really liked the experience. For a long time, our intention was to develop a separate tool for mastering which we called “Triumph” internally. Once we actually started to design Wave Editor 2, it became apparent to us where we wanted to go with the app and that we could do everything we wanted in a single app. However, it was going to look very different than Wave Editor, so we decided that it was time to rename the app. We really view it as a new, separate app.
For what it’s worth, Sample Manager is getting a new name too!
DS: Wave Editor/Triumph is also unique for the ‘layer’ workflow. Were you directly influenced by image editors? In retrospect it seems like such an obvious thing to do!
MF: Certainly. We agree, it was obvious. We asked “why hasn’t anyone done this before?” Well, it turns out it wasn’t easy, especially supporting mixed sample rates, file types, channel counts, etc. The hard work, I think, has paid off. We own a patent on it now, so that’s pretty cool.
DS: Both Wave Editor and Triumph have been placed in an interesting market position – they seem equally useful for editors, designers and mastering engineers. That’s a lot of different tastes (and workflows) to cater to!
MF: Exactly, but we love the challenge. Triumph, simply put, is very different. I think it is going to take awhile for people to really get the idea of what we have done with it. But I think once they do, they’ll see it is incredibly flexible and adaptable to just about any workflow. Triumph can be used by high school students for basic tasks, but can also be integrated into very complex “enterprise” workflows where the app needs to be automated and, say, integrated with audio asset management databases. The custom action and scripting component is incredibly powerful.
I say all of this fully acknowledging that much of that process is incumbent upon us educating people as to what the app can do. Admittedly, that’s never been our strong suit, but we’re taking great steps to change that.
DS: Any plans to cater to other platforms? Windows or Android perhaps?
MF: Highly, highly unlikely. It is difficult for us to do things we aren’t passionate about. We really have no passion for Windows or Android.
DS: What’s next after Triumph? Or is it all shhhhh?
MF: Triumph for iOS, Sample Manager 4 (with a new name), Spectre 2 and Spectre for iOS, an update to Rax.
We are also working on some pretty unique music-making apps for iOS that are not professional apps. Rather, they are apps intended for consumers and non-professionals. Our goal has always been to expand the market and help to create more music makers rather than looking at the space we live in as some sort of niche, vertical market. That always drives our design and our pricing. Let’s make things that were once complicated and expensive both easier and cheaper. That’s the promise of technology, right?
Watch out for the review and giveaway on DesigningSound….soon!